Garth Brooks, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Gibson talk ‘Home Plate Project’

Brooks’ Teammate For Kids and MLB’s Big League Impact team for $900,000 child hunger initiative

Garth Brooks’ Teammates For Kids Foundation and the MLB’s Big League Impact, founded by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright with support by Minnesota Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson, have teamed for the “Home Plate Project.” The league-wide initiative by all thirty MLB Clubs and more than four dozen Major League players supports childhood hunger prevention and battle food insecurity.

“Home Plate Project” includes an overall $900,000 commitment, including $300,000 from MLB players, to help individual Club charities support local groups dedicated to fighting childhood hunger. Led by their player ambassadors in August, Clubs will fund efforts with local food organizations, or local affiliates of national organizations, to distribute food and non-perishables to children in need throughout the United States and in Canada. The initiative is expected to reach a minimum of 25,000 children providing more than 3.6 million meals. Currently in the United States, 1 in 6 children may not know where they will get their next meal.

Brooks, Wainwright and Gibson hosted a media conference call on Friday (Aug 2nd) in which they shared more incite to how their charitable organized teamed up for such a worthy cause.

“It’s just an honor to be teaming up with Adam and Kyle on something that’s very real. I want to thank Jason Graham also at Teammates just for bringing this to our attention, something that we wanted to take on,” Brooks says. “The Adam thing with Spring Training just kind of fell in our lap. It started out with as a fun little thing back and forth, but Adam wanted to do something with really big children, not just in his hometown, but in all towns that have Major League Baseball teams in ’em. I’m just proud to be a partner of these two guys along with, just about, I think there’s at least one member from every team on this drive, and there are several teams that have multiple members on them, so just proud to be a teammate with these guys and hopefully get the goal that they have set, not only for this year, but the beginning of something really cool.”

Wainwright shares, “In Spring Training, I’m following the social media networks from a lot of different players and all of a sudden I see Garth Brooks — as I’m a lifelong Garth fan — I see Garth Brooks in the Pittsburgh Pirates camp, our rival in the Central. Every time I see him in Spring Training with someone, I’m like, ‘Man, what do I gotta do to get Garth Brooks to come to St. Louis to Spring Training?’ I mean, we won a few titles and we have a good reputation. Mainly because I just know the great work he does with his foundation helping kids around the globe. What we like to do at Big League Impact — feeding kids, feeding families, providing clean water, shelter, medicine, clothing — that was the heart of how Big League Impact started. It’s branched off to many other things, but I felt like there was a great partnership in the works here.”

He continues, “Luckily Garth and I, like he said, got a friendly little thing going back and forth and I think everybody on both sides wanted to make this work for the good of all humanity. There are so many great people in this great country and around the world that they’re hungry, and they don’t have access to clean water, they don’t have access to meals, and that’s not just abroad in several other countries, it’s also in the United States. That’s surprising because the things that we take most for granted — the food, water, shelter programs, just being able to go into your pantry and get a meal whenever you want — those are things that some people just do not have the ability to do, so this is a program I’m really excited about.”

Gibson states, “I’ve been doing a little bit of work with Big League Impact for the last four or five years now. This is the first year that I’ve been on board as Vice President and just seeing Adam’s vision and his staff’s vision for how they go about uniting players around the league whether it’s through Fantasy Football as they’ve started or through March Madness that they’ve done the last couple of years, it was something that really excited me to be apart of. When we started talking about this project and I saw some traction starting to build with Adam and Garth, and then the more we started talking to players, it’s just something that’s really important.”

He continues, “There’s always areas in even some of the most affluent areas of the Twin Cities where there are kids that either can’t afford school supplies or don’t know where their next meal’s coming from. And I would assume that that is in every Big League city. I think that’s really our goal. Obviously, we’re raising a lot of money for these kids and for these families that are in need, but I think spreading that awareness and making sure that people know that no matter where you live, you’re probably not too far away from a family that doesn’t know where their next meal’s coming from. And to be able to take thirty teams and do something in each Big League city is a real honor and I think something that’s gonna be really cool to follow for the years to come.”

The three fielded questions from the press, including yours truly, about expanding the initiative to Minor League cities, as well as other parts of the world. I inquired about how fans can help with this great cause. Brooks, who answered on behalf of Teammates For Kids, says there are a lot of logistics involved when collecting donations from the public.

“We’ve tried for twenty years to have the fan of the actual sport come in. It gets extremely complicated on how they give and collecting those monies as well, but again, I think we’re better off as all one team, so another beautiful idea is how to we get the Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, the fans of baseball in helping their own communities as well,” Brooks says. “Great idea. I think that’s definitely worth taking a look into. It’s also what I love about new proposals like this. You know, this is Adam’s and Kyle’s dream and it’s cool that the first day we talk about it, already at least two great ideas on where to find additional monies to help additional people have come in so I like where this is headed.”

“I like the idea that hopefully people in each of these Major League cities sees the good work that the players, and the Garth Brooks Foundation, Teammates for Kids, is going out and doing in those communities,” comments Wainwright. “Let’s think just at the very least they go out and they see what’s going on at whatever food pantry or whatever is helped in that city that they’re in and at then at the very least, whether they join us or not, they go, ‘Wow! I wanna be apart of helping with that food pantry or whatever it is.’ So I think, in my mind, one of the coolest things that can come from this is people be inspired to go out and do something whether it’s join us or not, something great in their own communities to help out people in need also.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019, Teammates For Kids began with the support of 67 Major League Baseball players who made a pledge to help kids. Since then, more than 4,700 professional athletes from baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, rodeo and racing have joined the TFK team. Since its inception in 1999, the Teammates For Kids Foundation and its network of thousands of professional athletes has distributed funds to charities focusing on children’s health, education, and inner-city outreach, through building Child Life Zones, supporting youth athletic programs, and funding life-saving surgeries.

Big League Impact, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to help meet basic human needs like food, clean water, medical care and shelter, in an effort to restore dignity and hope to people in the US communities and around the globe. Started by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright in 2013 as a fantasy football fundraiser, Big League Impact has grown from coast-to-coast, now working with 80 MLB players, and having raised more than $4.5 million for athletes’ causes.

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.